Cloud Storage – It’s Harder to Devalue an Ounce of Productivity than it is a Gigabyte of Storage

In 2011, when David Gloski and I started xOverTime, we had a vision to help users improve the management of important data in their Excel workbooks, support better collaboration about that data, and improve analysis and support for business processes. We saw that many Excel users use their workbooks to manage data that grows over time and that there are human and organizational relationships tied to data as it grows. As we looked forward at how technology was developing, we saw concepts from cloud technology and the social enterprise as key enablers for the capabilities we wanted to deliver to users. xOverTime envisioned supporting Excel users with a cloud database allowing users to rely on Excel for handling input data, calculations and reporting and rely on xOverTime for managing the data over time.

At about the same time, in late 2011 and early 2012, we watched the space around cloud storage come alive. Dropbox turned 5, Box turned 6, and Citrix’s ShareFile turned 7, all well on the way to becoming overnight successes after the pre-requisite 10 years of hard-work required here in Silicon Valley. Each of these vendors would store files with a vision that cloud storage would somehow drive productivity and collaboration in a way that all of the preceding storage paradigms had not. At that time, we first started to focus on the productivity value we could deliver rather than just cloud storage. We used this focus to keep our eye on what we were doing in the short term, to get to our minimum viable product, and to keep our product roadmap clearly on the problem we were trying to solve rather than chasing unicorns.

In 2014, we first observed something interesting starting to happen. For us, the team from Techcruch was the first to identify the change with Alex Wilhelm’s piece – A Look Inside Box: Competition, Product Plans, And Unit Economics. They got it absolutely right with the quote “It’s harder to devalue the utility of an ounce of productivity than it is a gigabyte of storage.” At xOverTime we totally agree! While we didn’t have these words back in 2011, that is how we felt about each of the storage paradigms that had preceded cloud storage. At xOverTime we were sure that gigabytes of storage alone where not going to cut it long term even if it was free. We watched as Box started to pivot towards the enterprise and talk about editing and collaboration as equal capabilities to cloud storage. We didn’t have to wait long for the next step in the story when Microsoft annouced that they added unlimited OneDrive storage to all Office 365 accounts in late 2014. In 2015, we’ve watched other vendors pivot towards the value an ounce of productivity can bring with changes continuing in the cloud storage landscape.

What excites us is how users interact and with Excel and manage data in workbooks that grow over time, hence our name xOverTime. Daily production numbers, monthly sales numbers, and quarterly financials are good examples of data managed in Excel where the number of columns in the workbook grows with each passing time period. We believe that data like this can live in a database and Excel itself can be used for handling the input, calculations, and reporting. The cloud database which is at the heart of the xOverTime Platform grows and provides for controlled data sharing within an organization. xOverTime delivers data governance on what previously viewed as unstructured data within organizations.

We continue to focus on our vision to help users improve the management of important data in their Excel workbooks by delivering better collaboration, analysis and support for business processes. We can’t claim to have solved all of the challenges associated with helping all Excel users improve the management of important data in their workbooks. However, we are working hard to allow xOverTime to support better collaboration and analysis for business processes, knowing that each ounce of productivity is key to any good product value proposition, including ours.

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